In the last week of last year, after a year of vibrant health, I got slammed with a terrible cold.
On my wedding anniversary, no less.
And even before that cold morphed into The Sinus Infection from Hell, when it was still just a bad cold, it threw my off my game, big time.
I mean, ridiculously so. Beyond any reasonable expectation.
So I wrote about it in my Creative Sandbox Community for women. Because that’s one of the things I do in there — I share stuff that’s going on with me, in the moment. Because that’s my inner circle.
And I thought I’d share what I wrote with you here on the podcast.
It’s an example of the kind of behind-the-scenes, what’s-going-on-inside-my-head that I share inside that group, because I think it’s helpful when we share this kind of stuff.
Because life isn’t always shiny-shiny, happy-happy, “highlight reel” stuff.
Life is messy. And imperfect. And it makes a difference for other people when we show them that messy imperfection, and that it’s okay.
That’s part of my calling — to show you the messy imperfection.
So here’s what I wrote:
It’s the last day of the year, and after a year of vibrant health, I got slammed with a terrible cold on my wedding anniversary.
It started as a throat tickle and some sneezing while we were visiting my husband’s family in Mobile, and the day after we got back it exploded into a full-blown head-cold.
Yesterday all I wanted to do was sleep, but I was responsible for making sure the termite inspector got access into all 14 units of our townhouse complex, so I didn’t feel like I could just let myself doze off–what if the inspector tried to knock or phone me, and I didn’t hear him?
It was a largely unproductive day.
And though I had the ENTIRE DAY in which I could have doodled, or colored, or played my ukulele, do you think I did ANY of those things?
No. I did not.
I willfully spent the ENTIRE DAY NOT creating.
Some days are like that.
Sometimes even creativity instigators have days like that.
Was it absurd? Absolutely.
I had my sketchbook and Pigma Microns RIGHT THERE. It would have been so easy for me to pull them out and make a mark.
And yet I did not.
Yes, I had a headache (as I do now). Yes, I felt lousy (as I do now).
But creative play would likely have made me feel BETTER.
And yet I still did not do it. Even the tiniest little bit.
So. I have a choice.
I can moan and wail and beat myself up, lambaste myself for being an idiot and stupid, tear my hair out, cry “What the *bleep* is wrong with you???” etc. etc.
Perhaps give myself a harsh punishment of some sort, or double up on whatever commitment I have, to make up for “lost time.”
That’s choice #1: to beat myself up.
And what happens? Now when I’m considering taking on a commitment in the future, what do you think will happen? Do you think I’ll feel a sense of lightness and joy and enthusiasm about it?
I doubt it. Because now what I’ll remember is the pain of that beating I experienced when I stumbled the last time. Now I’ll associate commitment with pain, because humans are (ahem) human, and we always stumble! So I’ll be a lot more likely to just avoid making a commitment altogether.
So that’s choice #1.
Or I can make choice #2, which is to simply forgive myself for being human.
It’s so simple.
But we make this so hard!! Why do we make this so hard?
It took me into my 40s to forgive myself for being human!
Guess what that’s called?
It’s also called imperfectionism. Imperfectionism is the exact same thing as self-compassion.
What they both mean is:
1) Mindfulness: acknowledge what just happened, and how you feel about it. There is no wrong way to feel.
2) Common humanity: acknowledge that what just happened is part of the common human experience. You are not the first person on the planet to ever experience this, and you will not be the last!
3) Self-kindness: treat yourself the way you would treat a beloved friend, or better yet, a beloved friend who is only four years old!
(This, btw, is from Dr. Kristin Neff, the world’s foremost researcher on self-compassion. I highly recommend her book, Self-Compassion. [That’s an Amazon affiliate link, btw.])
I share this with you, because I want you to know that you are not alone if you struggle.
I talk a lot about small daily acts and “tiny and daily,” and yes, I aim for daily creativity, but I don’t always reach it, AND THAT’S OKAY.
I think what matters most is NOT that you hit the target, but that you are shooting at it. It’s a moving target anyway! But if you keep aiming and shooting, you will keep improving.
Happy New Year!🎊
[Tip: listen to the podcast for some extra editorializing. Yep, you get extra stuff in the audio that you don’t get in the text version. Shhh… don’t tell anyone!]
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